Government, opposition at loggerheads over handling of wildfires

Government, opposition at loggerheads over handling of wildfires
As the death toll from the devastating Attica wildfires climbed to 91 and the number of missing persons was confirmed to be 25, the government and main opposition party locked horns over the handling of the firefighting effort.
Speaking to cabinet ministers on Friday evening, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras fully assumed the political responsibility for the tragedy, while adding that that there must be deep interventions in building laws to prevent similar situations in future.
Tsipras also urged critics not to attack those that risked their lives in the wildfires and gave a battle to save thousands of people. “We don’t intend to escape our responsibilities” the premier said.
Main opposition New Democracy pounced on the PM’s statement, criticizing the coalition government of “deceiving citizens” by failing to officially announce that people had died when the fire broke out last Monday.
The Prime Minister’s office responded by accusing the main opposition “and the media that support it” of taking advantage of the deaths to score political gains. In an announcement, the government said it had immediately informed the people through the government spokesman about the extent of the tragedy.
“New Democracy’s effort to play political games on the backs of people who unfairly lost their lives is a shame that exclusively belongs to its leader who is pulling the strings from the background”, the announcement said.
According to local media reports, New Democracy is determined to raise a series of questions regarding the fires and fiercely clash with the government this week over the handling of the firefighting effort and the operations of the state mechanism.
New Democracy vice president Costis Hatzidakis told the Athens News Agency in an interview on Sunday that the government is failing to admit its share of responsibility for the deadly fires in eastern Attica and the national tragedy. After nearly four years in power, he pointed out, instead of apologizing for this unprecedented tragedy, the government is pointing a finger at the victims…. / IBNA